Smuggling across Ukrainian borders, via Donbas contact line must be stopped – Poroshenko
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has urged for the flow of smuggled goods to be stopped while speaking at a conference on combating corruption and smuggling along the contact line in Donbas with participation of security officials, representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and civil volunteers.
"At the moment, we are facing an extremely important and dangerous task – shutting off smuggled [goods] flow," he said.
"The contact line poses a great threat to the stability of the state and facilitates the funding of separatism and terrorism from the occupied territories, which significantly undermines the security of Ukraine," the presidential press service quoted Poroshenko as saying.
Poroshenko said meetings dedicated to fighting corruption were recently held in the southern and western regions of Ukraine, and new initiatives are being implemented as a result.
In p articular, it was agreed to organize the work of common checkpoints with western neighboring countries (a joint Ukrainian-European mission on control over the Transnistrian part of the border with Moldova is currently in place), and an agreement was made to establish several terminals operating transparetly in the Odesa customs office.
"In the framework of our commitments under the visa-free regime, we agreed that only border guards and customs officers are allowed in the checkpoints. There will be no veterinarians, ecologists and radiometry operators, because their sole work was to sell a certificate for money and bear no responsibility for the protection of the customs territory of Ukraine," the p resident said.
Poroshenko praised the response of the Security Service of Ukraine and the State Border Guard Service to corruption on the border and the arrests of corrupt officials.
" We must finally shut off the flow of counterfeit cargo," he stressed.
The president drew special attention to combatting smuggling of excisable goods like tobacco, vodka and other spirit s.
"We must adopt a draft law that allows for the confiscation and immediate elimination of counterfeit excisable goods," Poroshenko said.
He said that the f uel and vehicles of smugglers should be confiscated and given over to the Ukrainian Armed Forces under mobilization legislation.
"The risk of losing a car will be a powerful impetus to stop criminal activity," the p resident noted.
Poroshenko also emphasized the role of volunteers in combatting corruption, saying that the positive experience of civil volunteers demonstrated by the Ministry of Defense, in particular in the establishment of electronic procurement, must be extended to other departments and regional administrations.
"The first figures demonstrated by volunteers via electronic procurement mechanisms are hundreds of millions of hryvnias saved," the president said.
"It means that volunteers work efficiently," he added.
Poroshenko also said that an important anti-corruption measure is launching the electronic permit system for the Donbas contact line.
"We will finally remove the stamp of corruption from the system of permits, because there were always deliberate delays aimed at receiving bribes for speeding up [permit allocation]," Poroshenko said.
He added that he believes the yardstick to determine if this process becomes transparent will be humanitarian cargo from Ukraine and international organizations crossing the contact line.